Kuhn still has value in Green Bay

Robert Zizzo
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Green Bay Packers fullback John Kuhn made his second Pro Bowl earlier this year.

PHOENIX -- Fullbacks might be going the way of the Walkman in the NFL, but the position still has value in Green Bay, coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday morning.

McCarthy, speaking during the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meeting, acknowledged that unrestricted free agent John Kuhn still is in the Packers' plans despite playing a position that has been phased out in most NFL offenses.

The way McCarthy sees it, fullbacks and tight ends are one in the same.

"It's not really just a fullback," he said. "I've always looked at the fullback and tight end position as one. I feel you have to have flexibility and versatility within those two positions. It keeps you in and out of a number of different personnel groups.

"The most important thing about football, if you can line up in one personnel group and play, win championships for 16 games, that would have been figured out a long time ago."

In the Packers' no-huddle offense, Kuhn serves as a master of the scheme and protector of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. To stay on the field and avoid personnel changes, Kuhn also was occasionally asked to split out wide and run pass routes.

"I've always preferred as many tight ends or fullbacks, a combination, as possible," McCarthy said, "because it gives us great flexibility, the way we utilize our tight ends as far as playing on the line of scrimmage, off the line of scrimmage, in the backfield, displacing them.

"We displaced John sometimes last year. He was a major passing threat when we did it. Just all those things. I really look at the fullback and tight end position, I kind of combine them when I'm doing the internal depth chart."

Kuhn, who will turn 33 the week before this season's opener, has been remarkably durable during his eight seasons in Green Bay. The 6-foot, 250-pounder has missed only five games during that time.

His playing time last season increased during the postseason, when he played 54 of 144 (37.5 percent) of the offensive snaps. During the regular season, he was in on only 18 percent.

Kuhn carried the ball 24 times for 85 yards and a touchdown in the regular season and rushed three more times for 7 yards in the playoffs. He caught four passes for 23 yards in the regular season and added two more catches for 10 yards in the postseason.

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